Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above

Weekly Photo Challenge:  From Above

My first granddaughter, Liza. I took this on a special outing I had with only Liza. We were at Jamestown VA in the Pocahontas village. Liza was grounding her own cornmeal just like Pocahontas would have done. I had so much fun with her, pretending to be Indians… although SHE got to be Pocahontas!

This was taken “from above”… in August, 2011, when she was only 2. I miss our time together.

My Mother-in-law and how she shows me unconditional love…

One of the best things that happened to me a few days ago, on my birthday, was receiving a birthday card from my Mother-in-law.  Most years she forgets to send out cards so I’m ALWAYS honored when I go to the mailbox and see her handwriting on the outside of an envelope.  I’ve got to give her credit though because she’s a whole lot better about remembering than I am!  I’m ashamed to admit that I truly suck at making a day special for my loved ones.  The people living in my house reap the rewards but those that don’t live here rarely get remembered.

The point of the post isn’t to talk about remembering though.  It’s to tell you how I’ve been SO blessed by my husband’s family.  You all know by now, what MY family is like.  I don’t know what it’s like to have a close family or what it’s like to truly be loved by a family.  I know what it’s like to be “judged” and “used” by my family.  It was a shock when I was shown unconditional love by a family who didn’t have to show me love.

First of all, I want to tell you what the card said from my Mother-in-law…

“Any woman can be a daughter-in-law.

But it takes a certain spirit,

an openness,and generosity of heart

to make the “in-law” part

drop away,

leaving that comfortable word

“daughter”.

You’re a caring person…

loving wife…

giving mother…

and your presence

in the life of our family

is simply a gift.  “

Dang!  That made me cry.  I don’t even know how to accept love or compliments!  I guess it hit me so hard because my own mother doesn’t feel the same way AND I know that Katherine (Mother-in-law) really feels this way.

She didn’t have to accept me the way she did.  Ben’s family had gone through the horror of his 3 other marriages before I arrived.  They’d “accepted” every one of these former wives, even when they knew they’d never last.  Ben had a definite “history” when it came to women, that’s for sure.  But that’s a post for another day!  I’ll save THAT for when he makes me mad 😉  lol  I need to tell you that these people are Christian’s of the Southern Baptist type.  They scared me and that’s NO joke!  I’m Catholic and it’s no secret that Baptists don’t like Catholics.  These people actually READ the bible and LIKE the bible.  Except for religion class in Catholic school (a million years ago), I’d never read even part of the bible.  Ben’s family doesn’t just go to church on Sunday morning but Sunday night and Wednesday nights.  Their recreational activities revolve around church.  Mine never have.  They’re also very “Southern” people who didn’t really know or trust “Yankee’s” such as they think I am!  lol  They’re the type of people who say “Well, bless her heart”, in the sweetest most loving way.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that Southern people say this only when they think you’ve done something really stupid and they’re too kind to call you out on it.

When I tell you about Ben’s Christian family, you might imagine people who don’t live what they preach.  Christians get a bad rap for being hypocrites but not THESE people and most especially NOT his mother!  She lives what she preaches and believes.  Only she doesn’t preach at all.  She leads by example.  She very quietly sits and reads her bible and only talks about it if you ask her about it.  She’ll mention something in passing but doesn’t shove it down your throat.  She’s so kind and loving that you can actually FEEL her love as soon as you get out of the car to hug her.  I’ve never been around anyone like this.  She believes in being a submissive wife.  It’s no secret that I DO NOT believe that I should EVER be submissive to ANYONE, but most especially my husband, her son.  I could go on and on.

Okay, you can imagine the amount of adjustment my new Texas family had to go through and that I had to go through for a few years.  Although, they never let me see that they were having to adjust to me.  I’m loud and bossy and sarcastic.  I say words like “God” when I get mad (that’s a very bad word to them) and I call people “dumb asses”.  They probably dropped to their knees at night in prayer over the things I’ve said and did!  They only showed the world how proud they were of me though.  I have ONLY ever been shown love by my mother-in-law.  She’s cried with me and laughed with me.  She’s felt my losses as if they were her own and she’s shared her thoughts and feelings with me.

Most of all, she’s treated my children as if they were her own grandchildren.  I wasn’t expecting that and neither were my kids.  We knew they’d TREAT my children with love and respect but we just weren’t prepared for them to actually LOVE them.  My girls feel closer to Katherine than they do their own biological grandparents.

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(Here’s one of my daughters snuggling in Memaw’s bed with “Ming-Shoe” the doll that Katherine made for her.  Julia feels safe and comfy in Memaw’s bed and I love that!)

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(she just sits, ready to give love to all her little one’s no matter their age)

Most of the time I spend in Texas, Katherine allows me to run her house the way I do everywhere I go.  You know the Mother-in-law on the sit com “Everybody Loves Raymond” right?  That’s how I expect mother-in-laws to be but not Katherine.  She’s happy to sit and read a book while I destroy her kitchen.  And TRUST me, I DO know how to destroy a kitchen.  She’s so gracious and never imposes her will on me.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I impose my will on her.  She’s not used to a whole lot of commotion and when I’m there, I bring my chaotic life crashing into her’s.  I’ll never forget the time she asked me if she could “help” in the kitchen.  Of course, I thought I was being considerate and polite when I told of “of COURSE you CAN’T help in the kitchen”.  I just wanted her to sit there and rest.  I felt like I didn’t want her to go through any trouble when my family was there.  For YEARS I did this.  Finally, a few years ago, she so softly, and kindly explained to me that sometimes a mother wants to feel wanted and needed.  We live over 10 hours away from her and she never gets to be a “mom”.  Sometimes she likes to show US how much she loves us.  Wow!  She didn’t want me to be ashamed because she’d NEVER want anyone to feel shame BUT I was SO ashamed.  I learned to step out of the way and allow her to be the mom when she wants to be the mom.

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(here’s me not only taking over her kitchen but taking over her kitchen AND even wearing her apron!  lol)

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(Another picture of the mess I make in her kitchen but THIS time I had some help from my little niece Selah!)

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(here I am even taking over her Christmas tree…  Geeze, I’m just so BOSSY!  lol)

Like I’ve already said, my Mother-in-law teaches by example.  She rarely needs words.  She’s watched, through the years, as I’ve ignorantly allowed my children to get themselves into trouble.  I was a LOT more lenient than she would have been but I had more faith in my girls than I should have.  I allowed one of my daughters to spend WAY too much time with some boys she met and became friends with in Texas.  They were friends of the family’s so I felt like it would be okay.  It got to the point where she was never home for dinner and she would only come in once a day to say hello to Memaw and GG (Katherine’s mother).  I didn’t want to be too strict with my daughter and I wanted her to have fun too so I allowed her to spend the night camping with these friends and family.  I could tell that it was bothering Katherine (mine and my daughter’s actions were not only improper but just down right rude) so I began to make my daughter stay home more often.  After all, we were only there for a week or two.  Later, we found out that my daughter was doing things that I won’t mention here.  Point being that Katherine knew she was in trouble and instead of imposing her opinions or judgments  on me, she quietly let me know that I was being too lenient by her actions.  She prayed for my daughter and cried when she learned that my daughter was hurt and was going down the wrong road.  She cried real tears like she would do for her own biological granddaughter.  I still can’t get over that.

Over last summer, when I was hospitalized in ICU, my husband called his family and I guess told them that I wasn’t going to make it.  They’ve been in this rodeo more than once with me and have never made the drive to St. Louis to come to the hospital.  I didn’t expect them to this time either because Katherine is responsible for taking care of her 93 year old mother.  Besides the fact that her OWN health isn’t great.  The trip is very hard on them and impossible now for GG.  My sister-in-law told me that Katherine prayed about it and felt like God was telling her to “go now”.  They immediately packed the family up and made the hard drive with 2 small children and 3 adults JUST to see me one more time.  I don’t think they expected me to be conscious but when they walked into my hospital room, I was awake and able to speak.  I believe I was hanging on because my husband told me that I needed to hang on just a little while longer to see “Mom”.  I remember feeling SO much love radiating from Katherine when she walked through that door!  It made me WANT to get better for her.  I promised her that it wasn’t my time yet and that God was good and I was sure I was going to live.  Actually, I was more worried about her making that trip and then turning around and needing to go home the very next day.  SHE wasn’t though.  She was there for me, to hug me and to hold my hand and pray, in person, over me.  The way a REAL mother would.

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(Katherine lovingly does her mother’s hair for church so that GG can feel beautiful too.)

I feel unworthy to call Katherine “Mom”.  I know she wants me to and she certainly deserves the title…  but something inside me won’t let me most days.  I feel like to be her “daughter” , I should be a whole lot more deserving or full of grace.  I’m getting better about it but I’ve been in the family for 12 years.  Today, instead of feeling unworthy, I just want to take a second to thank God for this woman who has shown my family and I so much love.  I’m smart enough to recognize that’s it’s not very often that a wife can brag about the fact that they actually LIKE their mother-in-law.  I don’t just LOVE her, I respect her and actually LIKE her.  Thank you God for this woman.  Because of her, I know the love of a real mother and I am blessed.

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(she loves us all like we were her very own)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lunchtime

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Lunchtime

“It’s nice to just be a kid and hang out with your friends at lunch.”
Karlie Kloss

Liza (our oldest granddaughter) eating her lunch in her sleep! lol What a sign of the times, eh? The busy American life… too busy to slow down, stop and eat. We were on our way to visit Jamestown in Virginia and we had to stop and get some chicken nuggets from Wendy’s. Liza was SO hungry but just as sleepy as she as hungry. Here she is with a nugget hanging out of her little mouth.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Future Tense

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Future Tense

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

I pray that my most PRECIOUS, intelligent and beautiful granddaughter will always be able to dream and have the courage to follow her dreams.

Here she is dreaming about who knows what. Maybe she’s dreaming of her knight in shining armor who will one day sweep her off her feet… or maybe she’s dreaming of the day she’ll take over the world! lol The important thing is that she dreams…

Children, Music and Brain Activity

my 3 year old niece showing an extreme interest!

my 3 year old niece showing an extreme interest!

 

 

Rebogged, read entire article here:

 

If you started piano lessons in grade one, or played the recorder in kindergarten, thank your parents and teachers. Those lessons you dreaded – or loved – helped develop your brain. The younger you started music lessons, the stronger the connections in your brain.

A study published last month in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that musical training before the age of seven has a significant effect on the development of the brain, showing that those who began early had stronger connections between motor regions – the parts of the brain that help you plan and carry out movements.

The study provides strong evidence that the years between ages six and eight are a “sensitive period” when musical training interacts with normal brain development to produce long-lasting changes in motor abilities and brain structure. “Learning to play an instrument requires coordination between hands and with visual or auditory stimuli,” says Virginia Penhune. “Practicing an instrument before age seven likely boosts the normal maturation of connections between motor and sensory regions of the brain, creating a framework upon which ongoing training can build.”

Eideard

If you started piano lessons in grade one, or played the recorder in kindergarten, thank your parents and teachers. Those lessons you dreaded – or loved – helped develop your brain. The younger you started music lessons, the stronger the connections in your brain.

A study published last month in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that musical training before the age of seven has a significant effect on the development of the brain, showing that those who began early had stronger connections between motor regions – the parts of the brain that help you plan and carry out movements.

The study provides strong evidence that the years between ages six and eight are a “sensitive period” when musical training interacts with normal brain development to produce long-lasting changes in motor abilities and brain structure. “Learning to play an instrument requires coordination between hands and with visual or auditory stimuli,” says…

View original post 481 more words

Great Grandma’s Chicken and Dumplings, a French, country recipe

My mother’s family were 100% French (Canadian French) when they came to settle in the tiny little country town of Old Mines Missouri. Nobody spoke English even up until their death, when my mother was young.  The thing she remembers most about her grandmother, my great grandmother, is that she was a very “cold” woman and that she didn’t show affection.  I’d have to guess it was because she had SO many children and they had to work VERY hard just to survive.  She didn’t have TIME to show affection.  Every Sunday, my grandpa would load up all 10 of his children and they’d visit his parents in Old Mines, for Sunday dinner after church.

My great grandmother would spend the day cooking the most delicious meals.  They weren’t elaborate, or sophisticated, but they were the most delicious dishes my mom remembers tasting.  In particular, there was the bouillon.  Bouillon had to be served before every meal no matter how hot it was outside.  It’s a French thing.  Most of the time, they’d eat outside because there wasn’t enough room for everyone inside the tiny house.  The kitchen that my great grandmother cooked in was not like any kitchen that I’ve ever had to prepare a meal in.  Food was prepared usually over an open fire.  It was too tiny for anyone to offer help, but they still tried to help.  She didn’t have much patience with anyone getting in her way, from what I understand.  The other thing I find interesting about their family “get togethers” is that the children were made to eat last.  Here’s how it went:  The men ate first, then the women and THEN the little children ate what was left.  WTH????  Totally not acceptable to me because I’ve ALWAYS made sure that the kids get enough to eat FIRST, before anyone else gets to eat.  However, Mom tells me that it really made sense for the old timers to do things this way because they were a “farming” people.  It was important to feed the men first so that they can get back out into the field and work.  The other reason that the men needed to eat first is that it was necessary that the men have the most food because they needed the food to fuel their hard physical labor.  Ok…  I’m struggling with the part of my constitution, the STRONG woman part, that says this way of thinking isn’t right!  Then there’s the logical part of my brain that tells me “Ok Michelle, you weren’t raised on a farm and don’t know what it was like to work as physically hard as the men did back then”.  Here’s my OTHER logical thought:  On a Sunday, after church, the men WEREN’T working on the farm!  Why couldn’t the rules change for  a Sunday?  I mean the women’s work was NEVER done but the men got to relax AND eat more food leaving whatever was left behind for the women and the children.  Good thing my big mouth didn’t live back then (1940’s and 1950’s)!  lol  This actually wasn’t the point of my story….  it never ceases to amaze me how easily I get off subject 😉  I was originally just going to post my great grandmother’s recipe for Chicken and dumplings!  lol

Now that I’ve come off my “rant”, I want to share with you my great grandmother’s recipe for chicken and dumplings.  I actually think it’s SO cool that my family still has her recipes and that they were translated to English for future generations!

Ingredients for chicken:

1 whole roasting chicken (1 used an 8 lb chicken today but any size will do)

3 stalks celery with their tops

3 carrots, washed but not peeled

2 med onions, peeled but whole

3 TBSP salt

3 TBSP pepper

2 tsp dried oregano

2 TBSP garlic powder

2 TBSP dried thyme

Directions for chicken

Place chicken in a very large dutch oven and cover with water.  Place all seasonings and vegetables in dutch oven and bring to boil.  Cover and simmer on low until chicken starts coming apart.  Once chicken is done, let cool so you can start taking the chicken off the bones.  Remove vegetables from stock pot and discard.  Skim fat from broth and replace chicken back into the pan.  Heat broth back up with chicken.

At this point you will want to thicken the soup by:

  • Heat the desired amount of chicken stock in an appropriately sized saucepan until it reaches a simmering boil.

  • Measure 1/4 cup of cold water and pour it into a bowl. Add two tablespoons of flour.

  • Mix the flour and cold water until it dissolves completely into a smooth, even paste.

  • Add the flour mixture a little at a time until the stock reaches the desired consistency.

    This is a little complicated if you’re not a seasoned cook but if I can do it so can you!  lol

    I also add a stick of butter to the broth because my family (who, btw, believe it or not DON’T have weight issues… lol) tells me the broth needs to be rich and all French recipes call for butter.  I’m TOTALLY ok with that!

    Grandma Boyer’s Rolled Dumplings

    Ingredients

    3 cups of flour

    2 eggs beaten

    3/4 cup chicken broth

    2/3 cups lard (yeah, I use shortening)

    1 tsp salt

    Directions

    Beat eggs, add COOLED broth to beaten eggs.  Mix flour, salt and lard together until crumbles form (I use a pastry blender for this).  Add egg mixture and mix well.  Roll thin onto floured board.  Drop dumplings into boiling, thickened broth.

    Note:  For an 8 lb chicken, I will double or even triple the dumpling recipe.  It just depends on how many people I’m feeding.  PLUS, I like leftovers especially if I’m going through the trouble of making dumplings!  lol

    Hope you all enjoy!  We’re having this tonight and LAWDY does my house EVER smell delicious right now!  lol

My Little Chunkaddodle Turns 4! Cuteness overload….

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4 years ago, February 2, 2009, God blessed us with our very first grandchild!  Happy birthday to  one of the biggest loves of my life, my little “Chunkadoodle”.

Being a Mawmaw has brought me many emotions I couldn’t have imagined I’d have.  First of all, I would never have guessed that I could POSSIBLY love another human being the way I love my own children.  My heart swells with emotion beyond love for this little angel.  When I hear her tiny little voice say “Mawmaw, come meer, I want to SHOW you sumpin”… and then she brings me a flower…

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When she screams, “Mawmaw, I wanna swing HIGH , all the way to the MOON!”

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When she pretends not to hear me when I tell her it’s time to leave because she’s MUCH too busy climbing the jungle gym…  And she makes me have to run and catch her to bring her down…

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When she says, “Pawpaw, Come meer, I wanna give you a hug” and I see my husband melt…

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When she falls asleep eating a chicken nugget on the way to somewhere…Image

And when we finally get to “somewhere”, how she makes me laugh because she wants to try on every hat in the gift shop…Image

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When she tells a funny joke and she cracks her OWN self up…

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When she’s in her own little world and she doesn’t know we’re part of that world…

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When she’s ready to take on the world with a cannon AND a sippy cup…

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When she causes her daddy grief because she’s too squirmy…

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When she thinks I’m Reeeeediculous……

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When she says “Pawpaw, I tired.  Gimme a piggy back wide”…

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But especially when she laughs…

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These are the moments when I realize why I live, why I breathe, why I love…

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Liza,

Through you I see the future,

Through me you’ll see the past,

In the present we’ll love one another,

As long as these moments shall last.

(author unknown)

Happy birthday my angel!  It breaks my heart to be so far away but you’re in the biggest part of my heart every single day!